Unilever’s Simon Clift
One of the first global Chief Marketing Officers transforming Unilever into a company with powerful global brands
Throughout his 30-year career, Simon Clift has been called everything from the bête noir of Unilever to ‘Best International Marketer of the Year’ and ‘CMO of the Year.’ He is not someone you will likely forget meeting, nor will you ever be confused about what he really believes. With an infectious passion for the potential of brands, zero tolerance for mediocrity, and a razor sharp mind that can dissect and discard an ambivalent brand positioning statement in seconds, he has a reputation that makes even the most senior leaders nervous about debating any serious topic with him. All the way up to his role as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Unilever, Simon has been the nurturer and protector of nascent brands and marketers that he felt needed time to blossom. The results have been an impressive array of multi-billion dollar global brand successes, including AXE and Omo, and a huge personal following of marketers who always trust his judgment.
In June 2008, Simon became Unilever’s first global Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for how Unilever develops and executes its core function of marketing across all categories; while simultaneously overseeing development of Unilever’s overall marketing capability and talent. Simon oversaw the re-launch of Unilever’s Marketing Academy as well as the launch of a fundamentally new marketing operating model in 2003, stressing at the time that he did not want anyone in the organization to forget the fundamentals by either thinking or acting ‘hopelessly local or mindlessly global.’
Simon has always had a passion for connecting to the people who use his brands, often making international trips to visit focus groups or consumers in their homes to listen and learn. He starts with the premise that people want brands to be good for them and that they must always deliver on the brand promises. Demanding clarity and consistency in communications across regions and reaching marketing targets in the most effective manner starts with complete clarity about the target audience and their needs. Simon was one of the first senior marketers to fully embrace the concept of brands needing to deliver against a larger purpose and being innovative in tackling modern-day societal challenges.
On any given day, two billion people use Unilever products to look good, feel good and get more out of life.
With more than 400 brands focused on health and wellbeing, no company touches so many people’s lives in so many different ways. Our portfolio ranges from nutritionally balanced foods to indulgent ice creams, affordable soaps, luxurious shampoos and everyday household care products. We produce world-leading brands including Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Axe, Hellmann’s and Omo, alongside trusted local names such as Blue Band, Pureit and Suave.